Friday morning we slept in a bit, as it was one of our only mornings we didn’t have to be some where. We ate breakfast as usual at the hotel, and took our time getting ready. Brian had stated that he would really like to head back to the Dembel Dome mall for some shopping, so we decided to walk there since it was probably only ¾ mile up Bole Road.
The mall was very similar to American malls, with many floors, air conditioning and elevators. The stores were all small – no department “anchor” stores, and were pretty pricey too. Even in this nice mall, I still found it odd being in Ethiopia and being able to buy things like Ray Ban sunglasses and Seven jeans. Come to think of it, I noticed quite a few people all over town carrying Louis Vuitton bags. There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle class in Ethiopia – just one extreme or the other.
We ate lunch at the Dembel Dome restaurant, which sits at the top of the mall with incredible views all around. The décor was very lively and trendy, but the food was just okay. At one point we realized we needed to hurry up and finish eating, as Dawit was scheduled to pick us up at the hotel in only 20 minutes to take us to Layla for Isaiah’s going away party.
The walk back to the hotel was hot and tiring as we were rushing to get there in time. At about the half-way point a car pulled to the side of the road and honked at us, and we realized it was Dawit! We gladly piled into his car and only momentarily wondered how he recognized us among all the other pedestrians – before we realized “duh” we stick out like a sore thumb.
We got to Layla early so we would have time to drop off the rest of our donations. I was a bit surprised at first to see how full the supply room already was, but then I realized with 120 kids they must go through things very quickly. We hung out with the older kids for a while, waiting for some formal announcement that the going away party would be starting. The announcement never came, and neither did the party. Gail came through at one point and seemed rushed and distracted, and kind of just laughed as she went back out. Oh well. It’s not like a 4 ½ month old baby would have noticed a party in his honor. Instead Kathy passed out candy to all the little kids who would have been at the party.
With extra time on our hands, I decided to go across the street to the hair salon to get my hair braided. It was a fun experience being a part of the “neighborhood salon” and seeing all the ladies coming in and out. Kind of like a scene out of Barber Shop, only I couldn’t understand anything anyone was saying. One woman knew a little English, and occasionally the woman braiding my hair would ask her to translate “does it hurt?” to me, which my reply was a polite “a little”. Actually, the pain from her pulling so tight on my hair made my eyes water constantly and made me feel like sneezing. I wasn’t even sure I would have any hair left when she was done.
But since I was already there and kind of feeling in the pampering mood, I decided to get a pedicure as well. I felt kind of guilty getting the royal treatment across the street from so many orphans; however I realized that I was helping support the local economy and a brand new business, which made me glad. The whole thing (extra tips and all) came to seven dollars!
The whole time I was at the salon, the rest of our group was playing with the kids at Layla. Dad and Kathy had brought the game Aggravation to teach the kids and leave behind, so they had taken over one of the classrooms for game time. Brian and Dad also got to play basketball with the boys, and Kathy got to chat with the girls. When I got back I became quite the spectacle because of my hair, and the consensus from the kids was that they liked it.
After a while we pulled ourselves away from the kids again, and headed back to our hotel. Brian and I were in the mood for going out for dinner, but Dad and Kathy were tired, so they stayed back and watched Isaiah for us. Brian and I had a blast watching the nightlife on the street, and got brave as we walked down a dark alley toward a traditional restaurant that had been recommended.
The restaurant is called Habesha, and it was amazing. There was outdoor seating under tents leading up to the main restaurant, where traditional coffee ceremonies were being served. The main part of the restaurant was dark and crowded, as there was live music and dancing going on. We were seated right in front, literally a few feet away from the live entertainment. Our table was about the size of a large pizza, with a romantic candle lit for us. Friday is a “fasting day” in Ethiopia, so we were a little concerned we wouldn’t be able to order meat. But it just meant that in addition to the usual meat dishes, vegetarian dishes were served as well. We ended up ordering a vegetarian combo, along with a steak dish. The combo had 15 different dishes in it, and we were a little embarrassed as the train of servers came over, each plopping a different dish on our platter. But let me just say this was the most amazing Ethiopian food I have ever eaten, and we did a very good job of cleaning up most of it.